David Goldman/Associated Press/Associated Press
Tom Koehler has not only surprised, but he's probably pitched well enough to secure the final spot in the Marlins' starting rotation.
Tom Koehler and Brad Hand: If you put the spring training stats of Koheler and Hand side by side, you would be hard-pressed to tell one apart from the other. That's how good they have been.
Koehler has a 1-0 record with a 0.75 ERA in 12 innings this spring. He has yielded seven hits, walked two, struck out 11 and opponents are hitting a pedestrian .175 off of him. On March 14, according to the Palm Beach Post, Koehler became the first Marlins pitcher to throw five innings this spring.
"He looks like a different guy from last year to this year," Marlins manager Mike Redmond told the Sun-Sentinel. "It's been a real pleasure to watch him go out there and work this spring."
Meanwhile, Hand is 2-0 with also a 0.75 ERA in 12 innings pitched; and Hand has given up nine hits, walked two, struck out 15 and opponents are hitting .196 off the left-hander.
The way these two have performed, the Marlins coaching staff must be giddy, considering they were among a handful of guys who were competing for one starting rotation spot. Now, the bad news is there might not be enough room for both Koehler and Hand.
"We're only going to take 12, and that's the beauty of where we're at right now, that we do have great competition among the pitchers," Marlins bench coach Rob Leary told MLB.com. "I think it's a real healthy thing that there is that competition right now, and we'll find out who's ready, who might not be and who rises to the top."
The best-case scenario is Koehler makes the team as the No. 5 starter and Hand is the team's long-reliever. Or it could be the other way around, considering the Marlins don't have a left-hander in the rotation. If Hand becomes a member of the starting rotation, the Miami Herald reports, he would be the rotation's first southpaw since Mark Buehrle in 2012.
One of those two scenarios could happen because, as Rotoworld noted, Hand is out of options, which means the Marlins can't send Hand back to the minor leagues without trying to put him through waivers.
Reed Johnson: When the Marlins signed Johnson to a minor league deal two months ago, they wanted to bring in more competition for valuable roster spots.
Now, Johnson could be the starting left fielder, or at least platoon with Brian Bogusevic, according to the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson. Johnson currently has a slash line of .370/.414/.444 with a pair of doubles and five runs batted in.
"It's great to be recognized as a player in camp and they want you there for all the things you do in the clubhouse, but at the same time I know I can still play the game," Johnson told the Sun-Sentinel. "I know they're always talking about, 'Hey, he's 37, he's the oldest gut in the clubhouse,' this and that, but I feel like I'm probably in better shape than a lot of the 30-year-olds and can play good enough defense like some of the younger guys as well. I pride myself that I'm getting jobs because I'm a good clubhouse guy, but I can still play the game. I still feel like I have a lot to offer as a player and hopefully the way spring is going so far I've kind of proven that."
The failed kiddies of 2013: That would be second baseman Derek Dietrich, center fielder Jake Marisnick and catcher Rob Brantly.
In 2013, these rookies struggled in the big leagues. Dietrich's slash line was .214/.275/.405 in 233 plate appearances, Marisnick's was .183/.231/.248 in 118 plate appearances and Brantly's was .211/.263/.265 in 243 plate appearances.
But this spring they have thrived. Dietrich's slash line is .333/.412/.533 with one home run and three doubles in 30 at-bats, Marisnick's is .346/.414/.500 with three extra base hits and three stolen bases in 26 at-bats and Brantly's is .350/.409/.600 with one home run and two doubles in 20 at-bats.
For Brantly, the spring is nice and it shows he can still hit, but he knows he's the Marlins' No. 3 choice and will begin the season in the minors barring injury or unforeseen circumstances.
With Marisnick, he'll also probably start the season in the minors as well, unless the Marlins give him the starting center field job.
As for Dietrich, he might have the most to gain. Dietrich could be the starting second baseman if Rafael Furcal is not healthy come Opening Day, according to the Miami Herald.